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Interviewing

  • acing the interviewOne of the most stressful processes you will ever go through is the interview process. The combination of pressure to produce the right answers to interview questions with the realization of what is at stake can get to you if you’re not careful. Here are 5 “P’s” to remember for acing the interview and putting yourself in the best position to land the job:

    Perception

    Let’s address the macro element first, which is how we perceive the situation. Our nerves get frazzled because we frame the situation in its worst case scenario in our minds. It is as though we alone have to go through interviews and no one else. As though it has never been done successfully before. Well, let’s work on changing the way we view this. People just like you have been interviewing for jobs for years, and they will be interviewing for years after yours. Keep your focus on the fact that if anyone else has had success in interviewing, then there is no reason you can’t be successful as well. Picture yourself as one of the millions who have and will interview successfully and you will not feel alone. Remember, it has been done before, so if “them”, why not “you”?

    Preparation

    Nothing facilitates fear quite like the unknown. The thought of what can be waiting for you around the corner can make you hesitant and affect your overall confidence level. The cure for this is preparation for the process. You should know what the most common questions tend to be, as well as your prepared response. Research the company with which you are interviewing. Be sure you fully understand not only what they do, but their history and where they are heading. Research as much as you can about the position, the department and its purpose. Your know what they say: “Success is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. Well, the interview is the opportunity, so prepare for success. And Don’t forget to bring extra copies of your resume.

    Practice

    There is no better facilitator of confidence than familiarity. The more you interview, the more comfortable you will be. Practice every aspect of the interview process via mock interviews. Be it friends and colleagues, or interview coaches and recruiters, simply going through dry runs of the process can make you more comfortable for when faced with the real thing. Get any offers to interview for jobs that you know you do not want to accept? Take those interviews anyway. This is a great time to get some “live fire” experience. Perhaps you can work out some new responses to standard interview questions. Or perhaps you will get one or two odd questions to test your “off-the-cuff” response skills. At some point, you want to be as familiar with the interview process as you are in conversing with your friends. Practice, practice, practice!

    Promptness

    By the time you meet the interviewer, you want to ensure you are in the right frame of mind. Arriving 15 minutes early allows you to sit for a while, decompress, review your resume and notes and go through whatever other mental exercises work for you to put yourself in the proper head space to deal with the interview process. Running into the door at the exact time of the interview does not allow for this. In fact, it sends a message to the interviewer that you may not fully grasp basic interview etiquette, which is the 15-minute early arrival. If you are not already, familiarize yourself with the location and route. Take into account traffic influences (time of day, construction, etc) and figure out exactly when you need to walk out of the door to get to the interview location on time. Vince Lombardi said that “15 minutes early is on time, and on time is late”. Who are we to argue with him?

    Probe

    You’ve arrived on time and killed it throughout the interview. But no matter how well you feel you have prepared, you’d better have some questions for the interviewer at the end. The fact is, if you have prepared properly and truly interested in the position, company or industry, you will have questions that your research simply cannot answer. Your questions (providing they are good ones) gives your interviewer insight into the depths of your thought process and overall investment in your career. When an employer brings you aboard, they want to feel you will be there a while. When you have no questions, it communicates a lack of interest and connection to the position and company, not to mention a lack of preparation and thought. Great questions at the end of the interview process also leave the interview on a high note when it comes to their perception of you. Who knows, you may reveal some facts to them about the organization or industry that they may not know themselves.

  • looking-for-employment

    “Don’t wait for your ship to come in. Swim out to it!” – Steve Southerland

    Your resume writer has prepared for you a strong document that should optimize your chances for an interview. So you begin looking for employment by scouring the online job boards and company websites, where you begin applying for positions. But is that enough? You may be competing with hundreds of other applicants. Some of which also used highly talented certified resume writers to assist them. When seriously looking for employment, what you need is your resume and cover letter in the hands of the decision makers. But in this digital age, there seems to be layers of firewalls between the applicant and these keepers of employment. So, how do you make it happen?

    Of course, if you have been managing your career properly, you have some infrastructure that can go a long way in helping carry out your attack plan (well-crafted LinkedIn profile, manicured social media, blog or website to establish your subject matter expertise, etc).

    When looking for employment, you can use your social media tools to tunnel your way to those who either have the power to bring you in, or at least may be able to wield some measure of influence. After researching who the decision makers may be for the position you seek, look them up on social media. Assess their openness to communication, and if you deem it feasible, introduce yourself and inform them of your application for the position available in their department. Since your LinkedIn page is optimized and blog updated regularly, they can immediately get a good feel for your qualifications. But don’t cyber-stalk or harass. The idea here is simply to get their attention for a few more moments than the competition. One never knows the conversation that can lick off.

    Of course, there are much riskier and crazier approaches job seekers have taken when looking for employment. Everything from singing telegrams to wacky formatted resumes have been used in attempts to get noticed. But remember, negative attention is not what you are seeking. So don’t do something so outlandish that your application becomes a punchline. You just want an edge, a subtle nudge that ever so slightly diverts the hiring manager’s attention your way.

  • jobNot Every Job Is Worth Having

    We all know that the interview process is primarily about the employer assessing whether or not they want to hire you. The truth is, you are supposed to be doing the same. There are, of course, questions you should be asking in the interview to get information on everything from the job to your potential supervisors and the company’s direction as a whole. But there are some things that you can simply observe before the job interview even starts that may clue you in as to whether you should turn and run. Now, before you get huffy, I know that everyone’s pocketbook status is different. So yours may be a case of “I would run if I could afford to, however …”. But trust me when I tell you that there are some employment situations that will be worse for you than a few late notices. While the final decision would be up to you, here are some things you can pay attention to that may help you go into a job situation more aware.

    So, you have arrived at the employer’s office (15 minutes early, I hope). You have been greeted by the receptionist and now you are sitting in the waiting area. Don’t zone out completely. This a good opportunity to observe the surroundings. If you have already prepped for the interview (and as my sister would say, YA BETTAH HAD!!!), then you can take that time to put up your antenna to get a sense of your environment. Is the reception area continuously experiencing traffic by people complaining about their boss, their job, or just gossiping? It is amazing how few people who do these things try to disguise it or even pay attention that others you have no business hearing it can hear them. Take a listen to get an idea of what you are potential future coworkers are like.

    It is now time to call you back for the interview. Perhaps they are walking you through an area where most of your future coworkers are housed. Watch their body language. Look at their faces. Do they look motivated? Do they look satisfied? Do they look happy? If the pervasive look is one of despair and wanting to escape, put this into your decision matrix.

    What about the physical space? Is the job in a shoddy or unkempt building? Is the furniture falling apart? If you prefer a serene environment, then what about plants and artwork while performing your job?

    Happy workspaces do in fact exist. True, no job or employer is perfect. But to toil away for 8 to 10 hours every – – – single – – – day in a place that drains you? Well, you could be back on the market in 6 months just to maintain your sanity.
    But again, everybody’s pocket and past due notice stack is different. You gotta “do you”, right?

  • interviewsHow to Make the Most of Your New Resume to Manage Your Career

    In our last blog article, we addressed a couple of the things that you should do to manage your career once you have your brand new resume in hand. We went over storing electronic copies in various places for easy access. We also went over how to treat your social media, at least during a job search. Keep it clean, keep your professional.

     

    Build a Complete and Search-Friendly LinkedIn Profile

    Your brand new resume is only part of your toolbox in getting a new job to help manage your career. A LinkedIn profile is quickly becoming a necessary part of your job search package. Did you know that there were more than 300 million LinkedIn users and that 1 in 20 of these are recruiters? Folks, I’m afraid LinkedIn isn’t optional anymore. A few weeks ago, I ran across a job posting that specifically asked for the LinkedIn URL and not to send in the resume. LinkedIn is here to stay people!

    Be sure to develop your profile fully. Incomplete profiles do not score as well in their search database. Also, sit for and upload a professional photo. Did you know that a LinkedIn profile is 11 times more likely to be viewed if there is a photo in the profile? Flesh out each of your professional experience positions as well. LinkedIn profiles allow up to 2000 characters for each of these. Best to make use of the available space to help with Search strength. And don’t forget to make connections and get recommendations.

     

    Make Your Battle Plan In Writing

    So now that you have your resume, a refined LinkedIn profile, and a cleaned up social media space, it is time to create a plan for your approach. How many hours per day will you spend networking vs applying for openings to mange your career? How much time will you spend researching companies that hire people with your skill set, but just may not have posted openings yet? Identify those viable targets and build an action plan for reaching out to each and every one of them. Put those whom you communicate with, be sure to track those conversations for future reference. Always seek to make your communications a personal one. Your competition won’t always do so. Use any scheduling software on your phone or computer to ensure that you execute all stages of your plan in a timely fashion. (No, that fancy phone isn’t just for playing Candy Crush)

     

    Get a Mentor

    Now, this is more of a long term strategy than a short term job search move. What a mentor will do for you is keep you from unnecessary making mistakes in your career path. Often, a mentor’s personal experiences, trials and tribulations can serve as warnings to you to ensure that you reach your goals with minimal stress. Perhaps there were classes you are planning to take that are unnecessary. Your mentor may know this as they took those classes and found that it was a waste of time and resources. And perhaps they can be of some short-term service to you. As a member of the industry or profession and which you are seeking membership, they may have a colleague looking for someone exactly like you.

  • DollarEverything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it.
    – Publilius Syrus

    Okay, so your shiny new resume and cover letter got you the first interview and it went very well. You are now asked in for a second interview and it looks like you will eventually be made an offer. Excellent news!

    But alas, your job isn’t done yet.

    Applicants are all too often ready to jump on the first offer made by an employer, as they are happy just to be working. But remember, if you have presented your skill set well and impressed in the interview the way you should have (given the practice runs and research you did, right?), then you are just as valuable to them as they are to you. With that, be sure you take the time to know your true worth so that you know if the offer is a good one. Actually, it is recommended that you never accept a job offer on the spot. Let the employer know that it is a great position and you are considering accepting, but would like a day or so to think things over.

    Instead of comparing your value based upon a job title alone, be sure you are matching it to a job description. Titles and associated responsibilities are not always consistent across companies or industries. Also, remember that the larger companies usually pay their employees more than smaller companies because they usually have higher revenue per employee. Lastly, if you plan show your findings to the hiring manager, you want to use employer-reported data, which will be considered more credible due to the fact that it accounts for all company factors that influence compensation.

    The World Wide Web has numerous tools out there for you to use to get an idea of what your new position should pay. Using criteria such as region, experience level, education, and industry, these calculators can provide you with a solid range and median for your position.

    Some of the more popular calculators include:

    Salary.com
    PayScale.com
    AreaVibes
    Careerbuilders
    Monster.com

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